Philosophical Psychology 33 (8):1072-1095 (2020)

Michael Dale
University of Texas at Austin
In his article “Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality,” Joshua Greene argues that the empirical findings of cognitive neuroscience have implications for ethics. Specifically, he contends that we ought to trust our manual, conscious reasoning system more than our automatic, emotional system when confronting unfamiliar problems; and because cognitive neuroscience has shown that consequentialist judgments are generated by the manual system and deontological judgments are generated by the automatic system, we ought to trust the former more than the latter when facing unfamiliar moral problems. In the present article, I analyze one of the premises of Greene’s argument. In particular, I ask what exactly an unfamiliar problem is and whether moral problems can be classified as unfamiliar. After exploring several different possible interpretations of familiarity and unfamiliarity, I conclude that the concepts are too problematic to be philosophically compelling, and thus should be abandoned.
Keywords ethics  moral psychology  neuroethics  dual process theory  Joshua Greene  neuroscience  utilitarianism  deontology  consequentialism  evolution
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DOI 10.1080/09515089.2020.1787972
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References found in this work BETA

Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition Advancing the Debate.Jonathan Evans & Keith E. Stanovich - 2013 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 8 (3):223-241.
The Normative Insignificance of Neuroscience.Selim Berker - 2009 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (4):293-329.
The Secret Joke of Kant’s Soul.Joshua Greene - 2007 - In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, Vol. 3. MIT Press.

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